Ian Smillie


Diamonds are a multi-billion-dollar business involving some of the world's largest mining companies, a million and a half artisanal diggers, more than a million cutters and polishers, and a huge retail jewelry sector. But behind the sparkle of the diamond lies a murkier story, in which rebel armies in Angola, Sierra Leone, and the Congo turned to diamonds to finance their wars. Completely unregulated, so-called "blood diamonds" became the perfect tool for money laundering, tax evasion, drug-running, and weapons-trafficking.

Diamonds brings together for the first time all aspects of the diamond industry. In it, Ian Smillie, former UN Security Council investigator and leading figure in the blood diamonds campaign, offers a comprehensive analysis of the history and structure of today's diamond trade, the struggle for effective regulation, and the challenges ahead. There is, he argues, greater diversification and competition than ever before, but, thanks to changed attitudes and greater transparency, this coveted and prestigious gem now represents a fragile but renewed opportunity for development in some of the world's poorest nations. This part of the diamond story has rarely been told.

About the Author

Ian Smillie currently chairs the Board of the Diamond Development Initiative, a non-governmental organization working to improve the condition of Africa's 1.5 million artisanal diamond diggers. He has written extensively on the issue of conflict diamonds and was directly involved in the negotiations leading to the creation of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme.


List of Abbreviations

  1. The Geology and History of Diamonds
  2. Supply and Demand: The Business of Diamonds
  3. Blood Diamonds
  4. Activism
  5. Regulation
  6. Power and Politics
  7. Development
  8. Loose Ends

Selected Readings


“Fifteen years ago Ian Smillie looked at a diamond and saw blood, and he rallied civil society and the diamond industry to address the blood diamond challenge. In Diamonds he cuts his way into the myriad facets of the diamond story - from geology, to mythology, to development and more. Diamonds is information-packed and inspirational, as is Smillie.”

— Stephen D'Esposito, President of RESOLVE, and former director of Greenpeace International and EARTHWORKS

“Ian Smilie examines the messy diamond trade from the soil upward in this valuable book. He knows far more about diamonds than any dealer, and he cuts through decades of haze to tell you the truth.”

— Tom Zoellner, author of The Heartless Stone: A Journey Through the World of Diamonds, Deceit and Desire

“Ian Smillie has produced a remarkably concise yet insightful look into the diamond industry - science, commerce, conflict, activism, Kimberley Process regulation and the ongoing challenge of international development - based on his years of first-hand experience on the front lines.”

— Matt Runci, PhD, retired CEO Jewelers of America and founding Board Chair, Responsible Jewellery Council